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The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanishmarker Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1823 to spread the Christian faith among the local Native Americans. The missions represented the first major effort by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast region, and gave Spain a valuable toehold in the frontier land. The settlers introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and industry into the California region; however, the Spanish occupation of California also brought with it serious negative consequences to the Native American populations with whom the missionaries came in contact. In the end, the mission had mixed results in its objective to convert, educate, and "civilize" the indigenous population and transforming the natives into Spanish colonial citizens. Today, the missions are among the state's oldest structures and the most-visited historic monuments.


Beginning in 1492 with the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the Kingdom of Spainmarker sought to establish missions to convert the pagans in Nueva España ("New Spain," consisting of the Caribbeanmarker, Mexicomarker and most of what today is the Southwestern United States) to Roman Catholicism in order to facilitate colonization of these lands awarded to Spain by the Catholic Church, including that region known as Alta Californiamarker. However, it was not until 1741—the time of the Vitus Bering expedition, when the territorial ambitions of Tsarist Russiamarker towards North America became known—that King Philip V felt such installations were necessary in Upper California. California represents the "high-water mark" of Spanish expansion in North America, it being the last and northernmost colony on the continent. The mission system arose in part from the need to control Spain's ever-expanding holdings in the New World. Realizing that the colonies would require a literate population base that the mother country could not supply, the government (with the cooperation of the Church) established a network of missions with the goal of converting the natives to Christianity; the aim was to make converts and tax paying citizens of the indigenous peoples they conquered. To become Spanish citizens and productive inhabitants, the native Americans were required to learn Spanish language and vocational skills along with Christian teachings. Estimates for the pre-contact native population in California have been based on a number of different sources (and therefore vary substantially), but indigenous peoples may have numbered as high as 300,000, divided into more than 100 separate tribes or nations.

On January 29, 1767 King Charles III ordered the Jesuits, who had established a chain of fifteen missions throughout Baja Californiamarker, forcibly expelled and returned to the home country. Visitador General José de Gálvez engaged the Franciscans, under the leadership of Fray Junípero Serra, to take charge of those outposts on March 12, 1768. The padres closed or consolidated several of the existing settlements, and also founded Misión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatámarker (the only Franciscan mission in all of Baja California) and the nearby Visita de la Presentación in 1769. This plan, however, was changed within a few months after Gálvez received the following orders: "Occupy and fortify San Diego and Monterey for God and the King of Spain."  It was thereupon decided to call upon the priests of the Dominican Order to take charge of the Baja California missions in order to allow the Franciscans to concentrate on founding new missions in Alta California.

Mission period (1769– 1833)

The first recorded baptisms in Alta California were performed in "The Canyon of the Little Christians." 
On July 14, 1769 Gálvez sent the expedition of Junípero Serra and Gaspar de Portolà to found a mission at San Diego and presidio at Monterey, respectively. En route to Monterey, Fathers Francisco Gómez and Juan Crespí came across a native settlement wherein two young girls were dying: one, a baby said to be "dying at its mother's breast," the other a small girl suffering of burns. On July 22, Father Gómez baptized the baby, giving her the name "Maria Magdalena," while Father Crespí baptized the older child, naming her "Margarita;" these were the first recorded baptisms in Alta California. The expedition's soldiers dubbed the spot Los Cristianos. The group continued northward but missed Monterey Harbor and returned to San Diego on January 24, 1770. Near the end of 1771 the Portolà Expedition arrived at San Francisco Baymarker; between 1774 and 1791, the Spanish Crown sent forth a number of expeditions to explore the Pacific Northwest.

Each mission was to be turned over to a secular clergy and all the common mission lands distributed amongst the native population within ten years after its founding, a policy that was based upon Spain's experience with the more advanced tribes in Mexicomarker, Central America, and Perumarker. In time, it became apparent to Father Serra and his associates that the Indian tribes on the northern frontier in Alta California would require a much longer period of acclimatization. None of the California missions ever attained complete self-sufficiency, and required continued (albeit modest) financial support from mother Spain. Mission development was therefore financed out of El Fondo Piadoso de las Californias ("The Pious Fund of the Californias," which had its origin in 1697 and consisted of voluntary donations made by individuals and religious bodies in Mexico to members of the Society of Jesus) to enable the missionaries to propagate the Catholic Faith in the area then known as California. Starting with the onset of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810, this support largely disappeared and the missions and their converts were left on their own (as of 1800, native labor had made up the backbone of the colonial economy).

Arguably "the worst epidemic of the Spanish Era in California" was known to be the measles epidemic of 1806, wherein one-quarter of the mission Indian population of the San Francisco Bay areamarker died of the measles or related complications between March and May of that year. In 1811, the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico sent an interrogatorio (questionnaire) to all of the missions in Alta California regarding the customs, disposition, and condition of the Mission Indians. The replies, which varied greatly in the length, spirit, and even the value of the information contained therein, were collected and prefaced by the Father-Presidente with a short general statement or abstract; the compilation was thereupon forwarded to the viceregal government. The contemporary nature of the responses, no matter how incomplete or biased some may be, are nonetheless of considerable value to modern ethnologists.

Russian colonization of the Americas reached its southernmost point with the 1812 establishment of Fort Rossmarker (krepost' rus), an agricultural, scientific,and fur-trading settlement located in present-day Sonoma County, Californiamarker. In November and December 1818, several of the missions were attacked by Hipólito Bouchard, "California's only pirate."  A Frenchmarker privateer sailing under the flag of Argentinamarker, Pirata Buchar (as he was known to the locals) worked his way down the California coast, conducting raids on the installations at Monterey, Santa Barbaramarker, and San Juan Capistrano, with limited success. Upon hearing of the attacks, many mission priests (along with a few government officials) sought refuge at Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, the mission chain's most isolated outpost. Ironically, Mission Santa Cruz (though ultimately ignored by the marauders) was ignominiously sacked and vandalized by local residents who were entrusted with securing the church's valuables.

By 1819, Spain decided to limit its "reach" in the New World to Northern California due to the costs involved in sustaining these remote outposts; the northernmost settlement therefore is Mission San Francisco Solano, founded in Sonoma in 1823. An attempt to found a twenty-second mission in Santa Rosamarker in 1827 was aborted.

As the Mexican republic matured, calls for the secularization ("disestablishment") of the missions increased. José María de Echeandía, the first native Mexican to be elected Governor of Alta California, issued his "Proclamation of Emancipation" (or "Prevenciónes de Emancipacion") on July 25, 1826. All Indians within the military districts of San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Montereymarker who were found qualified were freed from missionary rule and made eligible to become Mexican citizens. Those who wished to remain under mission tutelage were exempted from most forms of corporal punishment. By 1830 even the neophyte populations themselves appeared confident in their own abilities to operate the mission ranches and farms independently; the padres, however, doubted the capabilities of their charges in this regard. Ever-increasing immigration brought pressure to bear on local governments to seize the mission properties and dispossess the natives in accordance with Echeandía's directive. Despite the fact that Echeandía's emancipation plan was met with little encouragement from the novices who populated the southern missions, he was nonetheless determined to test the scheme on a large scale at Mission San Juan Capistrano. To that end, he appointed a number of comisianados (commissioners) to oversee the emancipation of the Indians. The Mexican government passed legislation on December 20, 1827 that mandated the expulsion of all Spaniards younger than sixty years of age from Mexican territories; Governor Echeandía nevertheless intervened on behalf of some of the missionaries in order to prevent their deportation once the law of took effect in California.

Although Governor José Figueroa (who took office in 1833) initially attempted to keep the mission system intact, the Mexican Congress nevertheless passed An Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California on August 17, 1833. The Act also provided for the colonization of both Alta and Baja California, the expenses of this latter move to be borne by the proceeds gained from the sale of the mission property to private interests.

Rancho period (1834– 1849)

Mission San Juan Capistrano was the very first to feel the effects of this legislation the following year when, on August 9, 1834 Governor Figueroa issued his "Decree of Confiscation."  Nine other settlements quickly followed, with six more in 1835; San Buenaventura and San Francisco de Asís were among the last to succumb, in June and December 1836, respectively. The Franciscans soon thereafter abandoned most of the missions, taking with them most everything of value, after which the locals typically plundered the mission buildings for construction materials. In spite of this neglect, the Indian towns at San Juan Capistranomarker, San Dieguito, and Las Floresmarker did continue on for some time under a provision in Gobernador Echeandía's 1826 Proclamation that allowed for the partial conversion of missions to pueblos. According to one estimate, the native population in and around the missions proper was approximately 80,000 at the time of the confiscation; others claim that the statewide population had dwindled to approximately 100,000 by the early 1840s, due in no small part to the natives' exposure to European diseases for which they lacked immunity, and from the Franciscan practice of cloistering women in the convento and controlling sexuality during the child-bearing age (Baja Californiamarker experienced a similar reduction in native population resulting from Spanish colonization efforts there).

Pío de Jesus Pico IV, the last Mexican Governor of Alta California, found upon taking office that there were few funds available with which to carry on the affairs of the province. He prevailed upon the assembly to pass a decree authorizing the renting or the sale of all mission property, reserving only the church, a curate's house, and a building for a courthouse. The expenses of conducting the services of the church were to be provided from the proceeds, but there was no disposition made as to what should be done to secure the funds for that purpose. After secularization, Father Presidente Narciso Durán transferred the missions' headquarters to Santa Barbara, thereby making Mission Santa Barbara the repository of some 3,000 original documents that had been scattered through the California missions. The Mission archive is the oldest library in the State of California that still remains in the hands of its founders, the Franciscans (it is the only mission in which they have maintained an uninterrupted presence). Beginning with the writings of Hubert Howe Bancroft, the library has served as a center for historical study of the missions for more than a century. In 1895 journalist and historian Charles Fletcher Lummis criticized the Act and its results, saying:

Disestablishment—a polite term for robbery—by Mexico (rather than by native Californians misrepresenting the Mexican government) in 1834, was the death blow of the mission system.
The lands were confiscated; the buildings were sold for beggarly sums, and often for beggarly purposes.
The Indian converts were scattered and starved out; the noble buildings were pillaged for their tiles and adobes...

California statehood (1850 and beyond)

By way of confiscation of the missions between 1834 and 1838 the approximately 15,000 resident neophytes lost the protection of the mission system, along with their stock and other movable property; by the transfer of California to the United States, they were left without legal title to their land. Via the Act of September 30, 1850, Congress appropriated funds to allow the President to appoint three Commissioners to study the California situation and "...negotiate treaties with the various Indian tribes of California." Treaty negotiations ensued during the period between March 19, 1851 and January 7, 1852, during which time the Commission interacted with 402 Indian chiefs and headmen (representing approximately one-third to one-half of the California tribes) and entered into eighteen treaties. California Senator William M. Gwin's Act of March 3, 1851 created the Public Land Commission, whose purpose was to determine the validity of Spanishmarker and Mexicanmarker land grants in California. On February 19, 1853 Archbishop J.S. Alemany filed petitions for the return of all former mission lands in the state. Ownership of 1,051.44 acres (for all practical intents being the exact area of land occupied by the original mission buildings, cemeteries, and gardens) was subsequently conveyed to the Church, along with the Cañada de los Pinos (or College Rancho) in Santa Barbara Countymarker comprising , and La Laguna in San Luis Obispo Countymarker, consisting of . As the result of a U.S. government investigation in 1873, a number of Indian reservations were assigned by executive proclamation in 1875. The commissioner of Indian affairs reported in 1879 that the number of Mission Indians in the state was down to around 3,000.

Site selection and layout

In addition to the presidio (royal fort) and pueblo (town), the misión was one of the three major agencies employed by the Spanish sovereign to extend its borders and consolidate its colonial territories. Asistencias ("satellite" or "sub" missions, sometimes referred to as "contributing chapels") were small-scale missions that regularly conducted Mass on days of obligation but lacked a resident priest; as with the missions, these settlements were typically established in areas with high concentrations of potential native converts. The Spanish Californians had never strayed from the coast when establishing their settlements; Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad was located farthest inland, being only some thirty miles (48 kilometers) from the shore. Each frontier station was forced to be self-supporting, as existing means of supply were inadequate to maintain a colony of any size. California was months away from the nearest base in colonized Mexico, and the cargo ships of the day were too small to carry more than a few months’ rations in their holds. To sustain a mission, the padres required the help of colonists or converted Native Americans, called neophytes, to cultivate crops and tend livestock in the volume needed to support a fair-sized establishment. The scarcity of imported materials, together with a lack of skilled laborers, compelled the Fathers to employ simple building materials and methods in the construction of mission structures.

Although the missions were considered temporary ventures by the Spanish hierarchy, the development of an individual settlement was not simply a matter of "priestly whim." The founding of a mission followed longstanding rules and procedures; the paperwork involved required months, sometimes years of correspondence, and demanded the attention of virtually every level of the bureaucracy. Once empowered to erect a mission in a given area, the men assigned to it chose a specific site that featured a good water supply, plenty of wood for fires and building material, and ample fields for grazing herds and raising crops. The padres blessed the site, and with the aid of their military escort fashioned temporary shelters out of tree limbs or driven stakes, roofed with thatch or reed (cañas). It was these simple huts that would ultimately give way to the stone and adobe buildings which exist to this day.

The first priority when beginning a settlement was the location and construction of the church (iglesia). The majority of mission sanctuaries were oriented on a roughly east-west axis to take the best advantage of the sun's position for interior illumination; the exact alignment depended on the geographic features of the particular site. Once the spot for the church was selected, its position would be marked and the remainder of the mission complex would be laid out. The workshops, kitchens, living quarters, storerooms, and other ancillary chambers were usually grouped in the form of a quadrangle, inside which religious celebrations and other festive events often took place. The cuadrángulo was rarely a perfect square because the Fathers had no surveying instruments at their disposal and simply measured off all dimensions by foot. Some fanciful accounts regarding the construction of the missions claimed that underground tunnels were incorporated in the design, to be used as a means of emergency egress in the event of attack; however, no historical evidence (written or physical) has ever been uncovered to support these wild assertions.

Mission life

The Alta California missions were of a type known as reduccíones (reductions) or congregacíones (congregations), a concept developed in the late 16th century to be employed wherever the indigenous populations were not already concentrated in native pueblos; Indians were congregated around the mission proper through the use of various means, whereupon they were "reduced" from their "free, undisciplined" state and ultimately converted into civilized members of colonial society. A total of 146 Friars Minor, all of whom were ordained as priests (and mostly Spaniards by birth) served in California between 1769–1845. 67 missionaries died at their posts (two as martyrs: Padres Luís Jayme and Andrés Quintana), while the remainder returned to Europe due to illness, or upon completing their ten-year service commitment. As the rules of the Franciscan Order forbade friars to live alone, two missionaries were assigned to each settlement, sequestered in the mission's convento. To these the governor assigned a guard of five or six soldiers under the command of a corporal, who generally acted as steward of the mission's temporal affairs, subject to the fathers' direction.

Life at the California missions varied slightly throughout the entire system. Once a "gentile" was baptized, he or she became a neophyte, or new believer. This happened only after a brief period during which the initiates were instructed in the most basic aspects of the Catholic faith. But, while many natives were lured to join the missions out of curiosity and sincere desire to participate and engage in trade, many found themselves trapped once they received the sacrament of baptism. To the padres, a baptized Indian was no longer free to move about the country, but had to labor and worship at the mission under the strict observance of the fathers and overseers, who herded them to daily masses and labors. If an Indian did not report for their duties for a period of a few days, they were searched for, and if it was discovered that they left without permission, they were considered runaways. A total of 20,355 natives were "attached" to the California missions in 1806 (the highest figure recorded during in the Mission Period); under Mexican rule the number rose to 21,066 (in 1824, the record year during the entire era of the Franciscan missions).

Young native women were required to reside in the monjerío (or "nunnery") under the supervision of a trusted Indian matron who bore the responsibility for their welfare and education. Women only left the convent after they had been "won" by an Indian suitor and were deemed ready for marriage. Following Spanish custom, courtship took place on either side of a barred window. After the marriage ceremony the woman moved out of the mission compound and into one of the family huts. These "nunneries" were considered a necessity by the priests, who felt the women needed to be protected from the men, both Indian and de razón. The cramped and unsanitary conditions the girls lived in contributed to the fast spread of disease and population decline. So many died at times that many of the Indian residents of the missions urged the fathers to raid new villages to supply them with more women. As of December 31, 1832 (the peak of the mission system's development) the mission padres had performed a combined total of 87,787 baptisms and 24,529 marriages, and recorded 63,789 deaths.

Bells were vitally important to daily life at any mission. The bells were rung at mealtimes, to call the Mission residents to work and to religious services, during births and funerals, to signal the approach of a ship or returning missionary, and at other times; novices were instructed in the intricate rituals associated with the ringing the mission bells. The daily routine began with sunrise Mass and morning prayers, followed by instruction of the natives in the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith. After a generous (by era standards) breakfast of atole, the able-bodied men and women were assigned their tasks for the day. The women were committed to dressmaking, knitting, weaving, embroidering, laundering, and cooking, while some of the stronger girls would grind flour or carry adobe bricks (weighing 55 lb, or 25 kg each) to the men engaged in building. The men were tasked with a variety of jobs, having learned from the missionaries how to plow, sow, irrigate, cultivate, reap, thresh, and glean. In addition, they were taught to build adobe houses, tan leather hides, shear sheep, weave rugs and clothing from wool, make ropes, soap, paint, and other useful duties.

"Ya Viene El Alba" ("The Dawn Already Comes"), typical of the hymns sung at the missions.
The work day was six hours, interrupted by dinner (lunch) around 11:00 a.m. and a two-hour siesta, and ended with evening prayers and the rosary, supper, and social activities. About 90 days out of each year were designated as religious or civil holidays, free from manual labor. The labor organization of the missions resembled a slave plantation in many respects. Foreigners who visited the missions remarked at how the priests' control over the Indians appeared excessive, but necessary given the white men's isolation and numeric disadvantage.Bennett 1897b, p. 158: "In 1825 Governor Argüello wrote that the slavery of the Indians at the missions was bestial...Governor Figueroa declared that the missions were 'entrenchments of monastic despotism'...''" Indians were not paid wages as they were not considered free laborers and, as a result, the missions were able to profit from the goods produced by the [[Mission Indians]] to the detriment of the other Spanish and Mexican settlers of the time who could not compete economically with the advantage of the mission system.Bennett 1897b, p. 160: "''The fathers claimed all the land in California in trust for the Indians, yet the Indians received no visible benefit from the trust''." In recent years, much debate has arisen as to the actual treatment of the Indians during the Mission period, and many claim that the California mission system is directly responsible for the decline of the native cultures.Bennett 1897b, p. 158: "''It cannot be said that the mission system made the Indians more able to sustain themselves in civilization than it had found them...Upon the whole it may be said that this mission experiment was a failure''." Evidence has now been brought to light that puts the Indians' experiences in a very different context.Lippy, p. 47: "''A matter of debate in reflecting on the role of Spanish missions concerns the degree to which the Spanish colonial regimes regarded the work of the priests as a legitimate religious enterprise and the degree to which it was viewed as a 'frontier institution,' part of a colonial defense program. That is, were Spanish motives based on a desire to promote conversion or on a desire to have religious missions serve as a buffer to protect the main colonial settlements and an aid in controlling the Indians?''"Bennett 1897a, p. 10: The missions in effect served as "''...the [[citadel]]s of the theocracy which was planted in California by Spain, under which its wild inhabitants were subjected, which stood as their guardians, civil and religious, and whose duty it was to elevate them and make them acceptable as citizens and Spanish remained for the Spanish priests to undertake to preserve the Indian and seek to make his existence compatible with higher civilization''."
''The missionaries of California were by-and-large well-meaning, devoted men...[whose] attitudes toward the Indians ranged from genuine (if paternalistic) affection to wrathful disgust. They were ill-equipped—nor did most truly desire—to understand complex and radically different Native American customs. Using European standards, they condemned the Indians for living in a "wilderness," for worshipping false gods or no God at all, and for having no written laws, standing armies, forts, or churches.''Paddison, p. xiv
==Mission industries== [[Image:Mission San Juan Capistrano 4-5-05 100 6559.JPG|thumb|300px|right|A view of the [[Catalan forge]]s at Mission San Juan Capistrano, the oldest existing facilities (''circa'' 1790s) of their kind in the State of California. The sign at the lower right-hand corner proclaims the site as being "''...part of Orange County's first industrial complex.''"]] The goal of the missions was, above all, to become self-sufficient in relatively short order. [[Farming]], therefore, was the most important [[industry]] of any mission. [[Barley]], [[maize]], and [[wheat]] were among the most common crops grown. [[Cereal]] grains were dried and ground by stone into [[flour]]. Even today, California is well-known for the abundance and many varieties of [[fruit tree]]s that are cultivated throughout the state. The only fruits indigenous to the region, however, consisted of wild [[berry|berries]] or grew on small bushes. [[Spain|Spanish]] [[missionary|missionaries]] brought fruit seeds over from [[Europe]], many of which had been introduced to the [[Old World]] from [[Asia]] following earlier expeditions to the continent; [[orange (fruit)|orange]], [[grape]], [[apple]], [[peach]], [[pear]], and [[fig]] seeds were among the most prolific of the imports. [[Grape]]s were also grown and [[fermentation (food)|ferment]]ed into [[wine]] for [[sacramental]] use and again, for trading. The specific variety, called the ''Criolla'' or "[[Mission (grape)|Mission grape]]," was first planted at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1779; in 1783, the first wine produced in Alta California emerged from the mission's winery. Mission San Gabriel Arcángel would unknowingly witness the origin of the California [[citrus]] industry with the planting of the region’s first significant orchard in 1804, though the commercial potential of citrus would not be realized until 1841.A. Thompson, p. 341 [[Olive]]s (first cultivated at Mission San Diego de Alcalá) were grown, cured, and pressed under large stone [[wheel]]s to extract their [[Vegetable oil|oil]], both for use at the mission and to trade for other goods. Father Serra set aside a portion of the Mission Carmel gardens in 1774 for [[tobacco]] plants, a practice which soon spread throughout the mission system.Bean and Lawson, p. 37: "''Serra's decision to plant tobacco at the missions was prompted by the fact that from San Diego to Monterey the natives invariably begged him for Spanish tobacco''." It was also the missions' responsibility to provide the Spanish forts, or "presidios", with the necessary foodstuffs, and manufactured goods to sustain operations. It was a constant point of contention between missionaries and the soldiers as to how many ''fanegas'' A ''fanega'' is equal to 100 [[Pound (mass)|pound]]s. of barley, or how many shirts or blankets the mission had to provide the garrisons on any given year. At times these requirements were hard to meet, especially during years of drought, or when the much anticipated shipments from the port of [[San Blas, Nayarit|San Blas]] failed to arrive. The Spaniards kept meticulous records of mission activities, and each year reports submitted to the Father-Presidente summarizing both the material and spiritual status at each of the settlements. [[Image:Primitive plow.jpg|thumb|300px|Natives utilize a primitive [[plough|plow]] to prepare a field for planting near Mission San Diego de Alcalá.]] Livestock was raised, not only for the purpose of obtaining meat, but also for wool, leather, and tallow, and for cultivating the land. In 1832, at the height of their prosperity, the missions collectively owned: * 151,180 head of cattle; * 137,969 sheep; * 14,522 horses; * 1,575 mules or burros; * 1,711 goats; and * 1,164 swine.Krell, p. 316: As of December 31, 1832. All of these animals were originally brought up from Mexico. A great many Indians were required to guard the herds and flocks, which created the need for "''...a class of horsemen scarcely surpassed anywhere.''" Engelhardt 1908, pp. 3-18 These animals multiplied beyond the settler's expectations, often overrunning pastures and extending well-beyond the domains of the missions. The giant herds of horses and cows took well to the climate and the extensive pastures of the Coastal California region, but at a heavy price for the Native inhabitants. The uncontrolled spread of these new species quickly exhausted the grasslands and hillsides the Indians depended on for their seed harvests. This problem was also recognized by the Spaniards themselves, who at times sent out extermination parties to kill thousands of excess livestock, when the populations grew beyond their control. Mission [[kitchen]]s and [[bakery|bakeries]] prepared and served thousands of meals each day. [[Candles]], [[soap]], [[Grease (lubricant)|grease]], and [[ointment]]s were all made from [[tallow]] ([[kitchen rendering|rendered]] [[animal]] [[fat]]) in large [[vat]]s located just outside the west wing. Also situated in this general area were vats for dyeing [[wool]] and [[tanning]] [[leather]], and primitive [[loom]]s for [[weaving]]s. Large ''bodegas'' (warehouses) provided long-term storage for preserved foodstuffs and other treated materials. [[Image:Mission sb lavanderia.jpg|left|thumb|300px|right|Mission Santa Barbara's ''lavanderia'' was constructed by the [[Chumash (tribe)|Chumash]] Indians around 1806.]] Each mission had to fabricate virtually all of its construction materials from local materials. Workers in the ''carpintería'' ([[carpentry]] shop) used crude methods to shape beams, lintels, and other structural elements; more skilled artisans carved doors, furniture, and wooden implements. For certain applications bricks (''ladrillos'') were fired in [[oven]]s ([[kilns]]) to strengthen them and make them more resistant to the elements; when ''tejas'' (roof tiles) eventually replaced the conventional ''jacal'' roofing (densely-packed reeds) they were placed in the kilns to harden them as well. Glazed ceramic pots, dishes, and canisters were also made in mission kilns. Prior to the establishment of the missions, the native peoples knew only how to utilize bone, seashells, stone, and wood for building, tool making, weapons, and so forth. The missionaries discovered that the Indians, who regarded labor as degrading to the masculine sex, had to be taught industry in order to learn how to be self-supportive. The result was the establishment of a great manual training school that comprised agriculture, the mechanical arts, and the raising and care of livestock. Everything consumed and otherwise utilized by the natives was produced at the missions under the supervision of the padres; thus, the neophytes not only supported themselves, but after 1811 sustained the entire military and civil government of California.Engelhardt 1922, p. 211 The [[foundry]] at Mission San Juan Capistrano was the first to introduce the Indians to the [[Iron Age]]. The [[blacksmith]] used the mission’s [[Catalan forge|Catalan furnaces]] (California’s first) to [[smelt]] and fashion [[iron]] into everything from basic tools and hardware (such as [[nail (fastener)|nails]]) to crosses, gates, hinges, even [[cannon]] for mission defense. Iron was one commodity in particular that the mission relied solely on trade to acquire, as the missionaries had neither the know-how nor the technology to [[mining|mine]] and process [[metal]] [[ore]]s. No study of the missions would be complete without mention of their extensive [[water supply]] systems. Stone ''zanjas'' ([[aqueducts]]), sometimes spanning miles, brought [[fresh water]] from a nearby river or spring to the mission site. Baked clay pipes, joined together with [[lime mortar]] or [[bitumen]], deposited the water into large [[cistern]]s and gravity-fed fountains, and emptied into waterways where the force of the water was used to turn grinding wheels and other simple machinery, or dispensed for use in cleaning. Water used for drinking and cooking was allowed to trickle through alternate layers of sand and charcoal to remove the impurities. ==Missions in present–day California (U.S.)== [[Image:Mission San Juan Bautista.jpg|thumb|300px|right|A view of the restored [[Mission San Juan Bautista]] and its three-bell ''campanario'' ("bell wall") in 2004.]] ===Founding=== Prior to 1754, grants of mission lands were made directly by the Spanish Crown; however, given the remote locations and the inherent difficulties in communicating with the territorial governments, power was transferred to the viceroys of New Spain to grant lands and establish missions in North America.Capron, p. 3 The 21 Alta California missions were established along the northernmost section of California's [[El Camino Real (California)|El Camino Real]] ([[Spanish language|Spanish]] for "The Royal Highway," though often referred to as "The King's Highway"), christened in honor of King [[Charles III of Spain|Charles III]]), much of which is now [[U.S. Route 101 (California)|U.S. Route 101]] and several [[Mission Street]]s. The mission planning was begun in 1767 under the leadership of Fray [[Junípero Serra]], O.F.M. (who, in 1767, along with his fellow [[priest]]s, had taken control over a group of missions in [[Baja California]] previously administered by the Jesuits). Father [[Pedro Estévan Tápis]] proposed the establishment of a mission on one of [[Channel Islands of California|California's Channel Islands]] in 1784, with either [[Santa Catalina Island, California|Santa Catalina]] or [[Santa Cruz Island|Santa Cruz]] (known as ''Limú'' to the inhabitants) being the most likely locations, the reasoning being that an offshore mission might have attracted potential converts who were not disposed to associate with a mainland oupost, and would have been an effective measure to restrict smuggling operations.Bancroft, pp. 33-34 Though Governor [[José Joaquín de Arrillaga|Arrillaga]] approved the plan the following year, an outbreak of ''sarampion'' ([[measles]]) that left some 200 natives dead, coupled with a scarcity of good lands and water, left the success of such a venture in doubt, and no attempt to found an island mission was ever made. In September, 1821 Father Mariano Payeras, "''Comisario Prefecto''" of the California missions, visited Cañada de Santa Ysabel as part of a plan to establish an entire chain of inland missions, with the Santa Ysabel Asistencia as the "mother" mission. The plan never came to fruition, however. Work on the mission chain was concluded in 1823, even though Serra had died in 1784 (plans to establish a twenty-second mission in Santa Rosa in 1827 were canceled).Hittell, p. 499: "''By that time, it was found that the Russians were not such undesireable neighbors as in 1817 it was thought they might become... the Russian scare, for the time being at least was over; and as for the old enthusiasm for new spiritual conquests, there was none left''." Father [[Fermin Lasuen|Fermín Francisco de Lasuén]] took up Serra's work and established nine more mission sites, from 1786 through 1798; others established the last three compounds, along with at least five ''asistencias''.Young, p. 17 At the peak of its development in 1832, the mission system controlled an area equal to approximately one-sixth of Alta California.Robinson, p. 25 Two short-lived settlements, [[Mission Puerto de Purísima Concepción]] and [[Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer]], though located on the California side of the [[Colorado River]], were founded under the authority of the [[Spanish missions in Arizona|Arizona mission]] hierarchy and are therefore not included herein. ===Restoration=== No group of structures in the United States elicits the intense interest inspired by the Missions of California (California is home to the greatest number of well-preserved missions found in any U.S. state).Morrison, p. 214: That the buildings in the California mission chain are in large part intact is due in no small measure to their relatively recent construction; Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded more than two centuries after the establishment of the [[Spanish missions in Florida|Mission of Nombre de Dios]] in [[St. Augustine, Florida]] in 1565 and 170 years following the founding of [[Spanish missions in New Mexico|Mission San Gabriel del Yunque]] in present-day [[Santa Fe, New Mexico]] in 1598. The missions are collectively the best-known [[historic]] element of the coastal regions of California: * All of the missions are owned and operated by the Catholic Church, save for Mission La Purísima Concepción and Mission San Francisco Solano, which are owned and operated by the [[California Department of Parks and Recreation]] as State Historic Parks; * Seven mission sites are designated [[National Historic Landmark]]s, fourteen are listed in the [[National Register of Historic Places]], and all are designated as [[California Historical Landmark]]s for their historic, architectural, and archaeological significance; * Four of the missions still run under the auspices of the [[Franciscan]] Order (San Antonio de Padua, Santa Barbara, San Miguel Arcángel, and San Luis Rey de Francia); and * Four of the missions (San Diego de Alcalá, San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, San Francisco de Asís, and San Juan Capistrano) have been designated [[minor basilica]]s by the [[Holy See]] due to their cultural, historic, architectural, and religious importance. [[Image:Mission San Luis Rey de Francia courtyard.jpg|thumb|300px|right|The courtyard of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, with the California's oldest pepper tree (''[[Peruvian pepper|Schinus molle]]''), planted in 1830, visible through the arch.Young, p. 18]] Because virtually all of the artwork at the missions served either a devotional or didactic purpose, there was no underlying reason for the mission residents to record their surroundings graphically; visitors, however, found them to be objects of curiosity.Stern and Miller, p. 85 During the 1850s a number of artists found gainful employment as draftsmen attached to expeditions sent to map the [[Pacific]] coastline and the border between California and Mexico (as well as plot practical railroad routes); many of the drawings were reproduced as [[lithograph]]s in the expedition reports. In 1875 American [[illustrator]] [[Henry Ford (illustrator)|Henry Chapman Ford]] began visiting each of the twenty-one mission sites, where he created a historically-important portfolio of watercolors, oils, and etchings. His depictions of the missions were (in part) responsible for the revival of interest in the state's Spanish heritage, and indirectly for the restoration of the missions. The 1880s saw the appearance of a number of articles on the missions in national publications and the first books on the subject; as a result, a large number of artists did one or more mission paintings, though few attempted series.Stern and Neuerburg, p. 95 The popularity of the missions also stems largely from [[Helen Hunt Jackson]]'s 1884 novel ''[[Ramona]]'' and the subsequent efforts of [[Charles Fletcher Lummis]], [[William Randolph Hearst]], and other members of the "Landmarks Club of Southern California" to restore three of the southern missions in the early 20th century (San Juan Capistrano, San Diego de Alcala, and San Fernando; the Pala ''Asistencia'' was also restored by this effort).Thompson, Mark, pp. 185-186: In the words of Charles Lummis, the historic structures "''...were falling to ruin with frightful rapidity, their roofs being breached or gone, the adobe walls melting under the winter rains''." Lummis wrote in 1895,
''In ten years from now—unless our intelligence shall awaken at once—there will remain of these noble piles nothing but a few indeterminable heaps of adobe. We shall deserve and shall have the contempt of all thoughtful people if we suffer our noble missions to fall.'' "Past Campaigns"
In acknowledgement of the magnitude of the restoration efforts required and the urgent need to have acted quickly to prevent further or even total degradation, Lummis went on to state,
''It is no exaggeration to say that human power could not have restored these four missions had there been a five year delay in the attempt.''Stern and Miller, p. 60
In 1911 author [[John Steven McGroarty]] penned ''The Mission Play'', a three-hour pageant describing the California missions from their founding in 1769 through secularization in 1834, and ending with their "final ruin" in 1847. [[Image:San Juan Capistrano 1880 painting.jpg|thumb|300px|left|''Misión San Juan de Capistrano'' by Henry Chapman Ford, 1880. The work depicts the rear of the "Great Stone Church" and part of the mission's [[Cemetery|''campo santos'']].]] Today, the missions exist in varying degrees of architectural integrity and structural soundness. The most common extant features at the mission grounds include the church building and an ancillary ''convento'' ([[convent]]) wing. In some cases (in [[San Rafael, California|San Rafael]], [[Santa Cruz, California|Santa Cruz]], and [[Soledad, California|Soledad]], for example), the current buildings are replicas constructed on or near the original site. Other mission compounds remain relatively intact and true to their original, Mission Era construction. A notable example of an intact complex is the now-threatened Mission San Miguel Arcángel: its chapel retains the original interior [[mural]]s created by [[Salinan]] [[Native Americans in the United States|Indians]] under the direction of [[Esteban Munras]], a Spanish artist and last Spanish diplomat to California. This structure was closed to the public in 2003 due to severe damage from the [[San Simeon, California|San Simeon]] [[Earthquake]]. Many missions have preserved (or in some cases reconstructed) historic features in addition to chapel buildings. The missions have earned a prominent place in California's historic consciousness, and a steady stream of tourists from all over the world visit them. In recognition of that fact, on November 30, 2004 President [[George W. Bush]] signed HR 1446, the "California Mission Preservation Act," into law. The measure was designed to provide $10 million over a five-year period to the California Missions Foundation for projects related to the physical preservation of the missions, including structural rehabilitation, stabilization, and conservation of mission art and artifacts. The California Missions Foundation, a volunteer, tax-exempt organization, was founded in 1999 by Richard Ameil, an eighth generation Californian.[ California Missions Preservation Act] A change to the [[California Constitution]] has also been proposed that would allow for the use of State funds in restoration efforts.Coronado and Ignatin ==Mission Trail== To facilitate overland travel, the mission settlements were situated approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) apart, so that they were separated by one day's long ride on horseback (or three days on foot) along the 600-mile (966-kilometer) long "California Mission Trail." Father Lasuén is credited for having brought the concept to life in 1798 when he successfully argued that filling in the "spaces" along [[El Camino Real (California)|El Camino Real]] with additional outposts would provide much-needed rest stops, where travelers could take lodging in relative safety and comfort.Yenne, p. 132; also, per Bennett 1897b, p. 152: "''With the ten missions first established, the occupation of Alta California may be said to have been completed...They were, however, at wide distances apart, and for the sake of mutual protection and accessibility, as well as for the better conducting of the work of spiritual subjugation of all the Indians, it was necessary that the intervening spaces be settled by additional missions. It was accordingly ordered by the Mexican viceroy, [[Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca y Branciforte, marqués de Branciforte|the Marquis de Branciforte]], that five new missions should be established, to be placed on lines of travel as near as might be between the existing missions...''" Heavy freight movement was practical only via water. Tradition has it that the padres sprinkled [[mustard plant|mustard]] seeds along the trail in order to mark it with bright yellow flowers.Markham, p. 79; Riesenberg, p. 260 ===In geographical order, north to south=== [[Image:1920 Alta California mission trail.jpg|thumb|250px|right|An early map illustrating the route of "El Camino Real" in 1821, along with the 21 Franciscan missions in Alta California. The road at this time was merely a horse and mule trail.]] * [[Mission San Francisco Solano]], in [[Sonoma, California|Sonoma]] * [[Mission San Rafael Arcángel]], in [[San Rafael, California|San Rafael]] * [[Mission San Francisco de Asís]] (Mission Dolores), in [[San Francisco]] * [[Mission San José]], in [[Fremont, California|Fremont]] * [[Mission Santa Clara de Asís]], in [[Santa Clara, California|Santa Clara]] * [[Mission Santa Cruz]], in [[Santa Cruz, California|Santa Cruz]] * [[Mission San Juan Bautista]], in [[San Juan Bautista, California|San Juan Bautista]] * [[Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo]], south of [[Carmel, California|Carmel]] * [[Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad]], south of [[Soledad, California|Soledad]] * [[Mission San Antonio de Padua]], northwest of [[Jolon, California|Jolon]] * [[Mission San Miguel Arcángel]], in [[San Miguel, California|San Miguel]] * [[Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa]], in [[San Luis Obispo, California|San Luis Obispo]] * [[Mission La Purísima Concepción]], northeast of [[Lompoc, California|Lompoc]] * [[Mission Santa Inés]], in [[Solvang, California|Solvang]] * [[Mission Santa Barbara]], in [[Santa Barbara, California|Santa Barbara]] * [[Mission San Buenaventura]], in [[Ventura, California|Ventura]] * [[Mission San Fernando Rey de España]], in [[Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California|Mission Hills (Los Angeles)]] * [[Mission San Gabriel Arcángel]], in [[San Gabriel, California|San Gabriel]] * [[Mission San Juan Capistrano]], in [[San Juan Capistrano, California|San Juan Capistrano]] * [[Mission San Luis Rey de Francia]], in [[Oceanside, California|Oceanside]] * [[Mission San Diego de Alcalá]], in [[San Diego, California|San Diego]] ===In chronological order=== ====Franciscan establishments (1769–1823)==== * [[Mission San Diego de Alcalá]] founded in 1769 * [[Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo]] founded in 1770 * [[Mission San Antonio de Padua]] founded in 1771 * [[Mission San Gabriel Arcángel]] founded in 1771 * [[Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa]] founded in 1772 * [[Mission San Francisco de Asís]] (Mission Dolores) founded in 1776 * [[Mission San Juan Capistrano]] founded in 1776 * [[Mission Santa Clara de Asís]] founded in 1777 * [[Mission San Buenaventura]] founded in 1782 * [[Mission Santa Barbara]] founded in 1786 * [[Mission La Purísima Concepción]] founded in 1787 * [[Mission Santa Cruz]] founded in 1791 * [[Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad]] founded in 1791 * [[Mission San José]] founded in 1797 * [[Mission San Juan Bautista]] founded in 1797 * [[Mission San Miguel Arcángel]] founded in 1797 * [[Mission San Fernando Rey de España]] founded in 1797 * [[Mission San Luis Rey de Francia]] founded in 1798 * [[Mission Santa Inés]] founded in 1804 * [[Mission San Rafael Arcángel]] founded in 1817 — originally planned as an ''asistencia'' to Mission San Francisco de Asís * [[Mission San Francisco Solano]] founded in 1823 — originally planned as an ''asistencia'' to Mission San Rafael Arcángel ===''Asistencias'' in geographical order, north to south=== * [[San Pedro y San Pablo Asistencia]], founded in 1786 in [[Pacifica, California|Pacifica]] * [[Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia]], founded in 1787 in [[Santa Margarita, California|Santa Margarita]] * [[Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia]], founded in 1784 in [[Los Angeles]] * [[Santa Ysabel Asistencia]], founded in 1818 in [[Santa Ysabel, California|Santa Ysabel]] * [[San Antonio de Pala Asistencia]] (Pala Mission), founded in 1816 in eastern [[San Diego County]] ===''Estancias'' in geographical order, north to south=== * [[San Bernardino de Sena Estancia]], founded in 1819 in [[Redlands, California|Redlands]] * [[Diego Sepúlveda Adobe|Santa Ana Estancia]], founded in 1817 in [[Costa Mesa, California|Costa Mesa]] * [[Las Flores Estancia]] (Las Flores Asistencia), founded in 1823 in [[Camp Pendleton, California|Camp Pendleton]] ==Headquarters of the Alta California Mission System== * Mission San Diego de Alcalá (1769–1771) * Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (1771–1815) * Mission La Purísima Concepción* (1815–1819) * Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (1819–1824) * Mission San José* (1824–1827) * Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (1827–1830) * Mission San José* (1830–1833) * Mission Santa Barbara (1833–1846) * Fathers Payeras and Durán remained at their resident missions during their terms as "Father-Presidente," therefore those settlements became the de facto headquarters (until 1833, when all mission records were permanently relocated to Santa Barbara).

Father-Presidents of the Alta California Mission System

The "Father-Presidente" was the head of the Catholic missions in Alta and Baja California. He was appointed by the College of San Fernando de Mexico until 1812, when the position became known as the "Commissary Prefect" who was appointed by the Commissary General of the Indies (a Franciscan residing in Spain). Beginning in 1831, separate individuals were elected to oversee Upper and Lower California.

Military districts

California during the Mission Period was divided into four military districts. Four presidios, strategically placed along the California coast, served to protect the missions and other Spanish settlements in Upper California. Each of these garrisons (comandancias) functioned as a base of military operations for a specific region. Although independent of one another, a sort of unison or connection existed among the missions of each district, which were organized as follows:

El Presidio de Sonomamarker, or "Sonoma Barracks" (a collection of guardhouses, storerooms, living quarters, and an observation tower) was established in 1836 by Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (the "Commandante-General of the Northern Frontier of Alta California") as a part of Mexico's strategy to halt Russianmarker incursions into the region. The Sonoma Presidio became the new headquarters of the Mexican Army in California, while the remaining presidios were essentially abandoned and, in time, fell into ruins.

An ongoing power struggle between church and state grew increasingly heated and lasted for decades. Originating as a feud between Father Serra and Pedro Fages (the military governor of Alta California from 1770 to 1774, who regarded the Spanish installations in California as military institutions first and religious outposts second), the uneasy relationship persisted for more than sixty years. Dependent upon one another for their very survival, military leaders and mission padres nevertheless adopted conflicting stances regarding everything from land rights, the allocation of supplies, protection of the missions, the criminal propensities of the soldiers, and (in particular) the status of the native populations.


There is controversy over the California Department of Education's treatment of the missions in the Department's elementary curriculum; in the tradition of historical revisionism, it has been alleged that the curriculum "waters down" the harsh treatment of Native Americans. Modern anthropologists cite a cultural bias on the part of the missionaries that blinded them to the natives' plight and caused them to develop strong negative opinions of the California Indians.

See also

For the nearby mission systems see Spanish Missions box below.

On California history:

On general missionary history:

On colonial Spanish American history:



Further reading

  • Crespí, Juan: A Description of Distant Roads: Original Journals of the First Expedition into California, 1796-1770, edited and translated by Alan K. Brown, San Diego State University Press, 2001, ISBN 187969164

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